It’s that time when pumpkin popularity rises. We’ve rounded up some fangtastic gut benefits of the fruity favourite for you to sink your teeth into
Every year we enjoy scooping out the insides of pumpkins, but have you considered how beneficial it may be for our insides? The answer is very good in fact. Part of the squash family, pumpkins have been proven to have numerous health benefits. According to the Food Revolution Network, not only can they help to keep your heart healthy but they help to keep you feeling full for longer, promoting healthy weight loss. Plus, they can aid digestion.
To celebrate Halloween 2019, we have nine reasons that’ll convince you to add pumpkin to your diet along with three deliciously nutritious recipes to use up leftovers.
1. Vitamins galore
Pumpkin is packed full with vitamins and minerals. Leading health resource Healthline explain it is extremely rich in vitamin A with one cup (245g) of cooked pumpkin containing 250% of our Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). While it may not be directly involved with digestion, for those of us with gut issues, it is important to replenish our vitamin A levels because some gastrointestinal diseases can make us more prone to a deficiency claim health and wellness expert Everyday Health. Pumpkin also provides iron which supports good bacteria in the gut, vitamin C which aids the absorption of this iron, magnesium which reduces inflammation in the gut and several B vitamins which support the efficient function of the stomach and intestines. What’s more, pumpkin seeds are nutritious and provide a range of health benefits.
TIP: Separate seeds from the pumpkin, scatter them on a baking tray, drizzle olive oil on top and bake in the oven at 150C for 40 minutes for a healthy, sustaining and tasty snack.
2. Boosts immunity
All those vitamins are sure to benefit your immune system and help to fight infections and having a strong immune system is essential for a healthy gut. The British Society for Immunology suggest due to the large number of organisms present in the large intestine (colon), the intestinal immune system encounters more toxins than anywhere else in the body. Therefore, it is vital that the gut can provide effective immune responses when required to protect it from foreign bodies. Basically, when people nag at you to “make sure you get your vitamins,” they are doing it for a reason!
3. Aids digestion
Good news — pumpkin directly supports digestion! It is the high fibre content in the fruit which helps to keep you full for longer meaning there’s less snacking on those tempting treats. Plus, why would you need to now you have a new found love for pumpkin seeds?
The NHS claim: “A diet rich in fibre can help digestion and prevent constipation.” They also recommend eating fruit and vegetables to prevent the bloating and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which alternative fibre sources such as cereals and grains can cause.
Pumpkin, you are the answer to our stomach prayers!
4. 90 per cent water
If you read the recent post on the gut-brain connection, then you’ll know that drinking plenty of water can have a positive impact on our mood. Turns out, it also supports regular digestion and healthy bowel movements. Good thing then that pumpkin is mostly made up of water (roughly 90%).
“It’s important to keep drinking, especially water,” say the NHS, “it encourages the passage of waste through your digestive system and helps soften poo.
“Without fluid, the fibre cannot do its job and you’ll get constipation,” they add. This hydrating squash will definitely give your stomach fewer reasons to grumble!
5. Low in calories
Pumpkin is low-calorie, low-fat and still tasty? It seems too good to be true, but evidence suggests it is a weight-loss friendly food because we are able to consume more of it than other high-fat carbohydrate sources. Plus, as previously mentioned, it helps us stay full for longer meaning less snacking temptation. Not that weight loss is the key to a healthy gut for all of us, the NHS do explain fatty and fried foods are harder to digest which could result in stomach pain and heartburn. Why not give your stomach a helping hand by adding pumpkin to your next meal?
6. Benefits sleep and mood
Is there anything pumpkin can’t do? Research shows its seeds are an excellent source of tryptophan; this is then converted to serotonin — the happiness hormone known for contributing to improved mood and healthy sleep. The body cannot produce tryptophan by itself, so eating pumpkin seeds is an easy and convenient way to add it to your diet. And you know what they say, happy mind, happy tummy!
TIP: Eat the seeds as a snack on their own, top your porridge with them or sprinkle on top of salads.
Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin curry. The fab fruit can be used in range of recipes meaning you can easily add it to your diet and reap its benefits.
“Its sweet flavour makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like custards, pies and pancakes. However, it works just as well in savoury dishes such as roasted vegetables, soups and pastas,” say Healthline. They agree transforming it into a soup is especially enjoyable as we head into the colder months.
Alternatively, Food Revolution Network recommend adding pumpkin puree to porridge in addition to spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
Healthline claim: “The easiest way to eat pumpkin is to season it with salt and pepper and roast it in the oven.” It’s like the transformer of the food world!
8. Energy booster
When someone says potassium, a banana may spring to mind, but surprisingly pumpkins are the real potassium pros with one cup containing 14% of your daily intake compared to 12% in a banana.
Registered dietician and pumpkin-lover Maggie Michalczyk told wellness expert Well+Good: “[Potassium is a] mineral necessary for muscle contraction, good digestion, water balance, and a healthy blood pressure.” She explains people can often forget to eat enough of it.
So, next time you need some oomph, pumpkin could be the answer. Taking a pumpkin to the gym for a mid-workout snack might get some funny looks though.
9. Muscle power
Many foods give us energy, but evidence suggests pumpkins are particularly good at this. As a strong source of potassium, it can actually improve our muscle function. Further, pumpkin seeds contain a high quantity of amino acids which aid muscle-building and magnesium which supports muscle relaxation. This is important not only for keeping us alert and focussed during the day, but it will provide some extra energy if you are doing exercises to increase your core strength. A strong tummy needs a strong source of fuel.
Have a pumpkin fact you want to share or just want to talk all things squash? Get in touch.
Delicious pumpkin recipes
Got some leftover pumpkin from all that carving? Use it up in these delicious autumnal recipes. They are all gut-friendly and alternatives can be substituted to suit individual nutrition requirements.
Creamy pumpkin hummus
- Cooking time: 50 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
- Best feature: While it tastes creamy, the ingredients actually contain no cream, meaning no upset tummies — yay!
The recipe can be found here.
Halloween pumpkin traybake
- Cooking time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
- Alternative: The butter can easily be substituted for Arla’s Lactofree butter and the soft cheese for their Lactofree version.
Click here to get baking.
Easy pumpkin soup
- Cooking time: 25 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
- Alternative: If you struggle with white onions, try substituting them for spring onions or celery. Swap the double cream for Arla’s Lactofree Cream.
Try it here.